What is an Endowment, and How does it work?

Endowments can be a huge blessing to the church or ministry that you love, but few people understand how it works. I’m not sure I do the best in explaining it in this video, but imagine if one of the biggest annual givers to your church is a dead person. That’s what an endowment can do. We have people that have faithfully supported the church for 20, 30, 50 years, and they wish they could support it for 50 more. An endowment will allow them to do that.

A properly managed endowment reminds us of the saints that came before us and provides on indefinite and growing stream of income to the church. You also don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to establish an endowment that will bless the church for generations. A $10,000 endowment will generate close to $500/year for the church. That’s $500 that could be sending kids to camp or paying for Sunday School materials.

Check out the video below:


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The Win-Win of the Charitable Remainder Trust

I don’t want this to sound like a gimmick or some slick way to raise money from gullible elderly church members. That is not what a Charitable Remainder Trust is. The Charitable Remainder Trust can be an wonderful part of a person’s retirement/estate plan. What makes it so wonderful? Here’s a list:

  1. Guaranteed Income for Life: This will supplement social security and pension income. Rule of thumb is that you will receive 5% back on any assets you entrust…for life…and it will likely grow.
  2. Protection of Assets: No one wants to see the financial assets that they accumulate during their lifetime dwindle away paying for nursing home care. These Trusts are irrevocable which protects them legally.
  3. Lowering your Taxes: I don’t understand all this part, but it’s pretty clear that you will be lowering your tax bill considerably.
  4. Supporting the Charities you Love: Many people fail to do any estate planning. After you pass, the assets of the Trust will go to benefit the charities of your choice.

Check out the video below:


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Is it Commuting or Business Miles?

A lot of churches reimburse mileage for their pastor. Pastors can put on quite a few miles…especially if they serve multiple churches. Mileage can actually be a major part of the budget. One of the issues is knowing the difference between commuting miles and business miles because commuting is not reimbursable.

I took my info from New Clergy Training on Accountable Reimbursements to help teach on this one issue. Why is this important? 1)It protects the church from paying for mileage they shouldn’t. 2)It protects the pastor from adverse tax consequences as reimbursing commuting miles is taxable. 3)It prevents hard feelings from misunderstandings.

Check out the video below:


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Does the church need to do the Form 941?

If you’re a new church treasurer, and, after three months, you finally are feeling comfortable cutting paychecks for your pastor and lay employees. Then the IRS comes in demanding information on the Form 941. Does a church really have to fill out this form? That depends.

The short answer is, if you just have a pastor and are not withholding Federal Income Tax, you do not have to do the Form 941. If you do have to file the Form 941, it’s not horrible. I walk you through it. I’m mainly focusing on small and medium-sized churches that don’t have to monthly remit payroll withholdings. For larger churches, chances are you have payroll software that fills this out for you.

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Paying a Lay Employee…manually

Like I said in a previous post, payroll is the most intimidating part of being a church treasurer. What makes it worse is that most churches just a handful of employees…maybe a part-time custodian and secretary. It just doesn’t make financial sense to shell out much for payroll software when your payroll is minimal. Without payroll software, how do you run payroll manually…especially when you have a lay employee or two.

Don’t worry though. While payroll for lay folks is painful, it’s not impossible. I show you how to calculate the withholdings and share with you a spreadsheet like the one I’ve used in the past for this purpose.

Check out the video below:


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How do you pay your Pastor?

When I became a church treasurer, the scariest part of the job was payroll. I was a CPA. I worked as an auditor for the State of North Dakotas. I knew about taxes and payroll liabilities and all that fun stuff, but I’d never actually cut a payroll check before. To make matters worse, no university trains people on clergy taxes. I was completely unprepared for cutting my pastors paycheck.

I’m not alone. I’ve helped train in numerous church treasurers and this is almost always the biggest concern. What I’ve found out is that cutting a paycheck for your pastor is less complex than cutting a paycheck for a lay employee. You need to understand the Housing Exclusion and how your payroll software (if you use any) handles that. Once you get that, it’s smooth sailing…no FICA…usually no Federal Income Tax Withholding.

Check out the video below:


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How do I prepare my pastor’s W-2?

I’m not trying to dissuade you from having a tax professional prepare your W-2’s, but, if you are up to the challenge, here’s how to do it. This is mainly aimed at clergy in the Dakotas UMC, but I bet you could translate this into Lutheran or Presbyterian or Baptist or even Non-Denominational.

Here’s the confusing thing: a Pastor is an Employee according to the IRS and Self-Employed according to the Social Security Administration. That means you leave the social security and medicare parts blank. You also have to treat housing exclusions and housing allowances differently as the IRS doesn’t consider that to be taxable…although the SSA does.

Check out the video below:


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